Friday, June 17, 2022

November Hill farm journal, 157, the bluebird bed

 When we moved the grass paddock fence to keep the horses from being right on the driveway when turned out there, we opened up a little space for a fire pit and seating area for us. I also added a small flower bed around the bluebird box we’d moved to its new location.

Some may recall my brilliant plant to put many multi-colored bird boxes on the backyard fence that provides a backdrop to my upper pollinator bed. It looked lovely but our cats were literally sticking their paws through the cracks in the fence to swipe at the bluebird parents as they tried to protect their nests. It quickly became clear that fledging bluebirds could easily fledge right into the back yard with the cats, so we moved it after the final fledging that year and much monitoring to insure no babies were injured or killed.

What I now call the bluebird bed is a sloping area that needed something similar to a rain garden to drink up the water run-off during rain events. In a grander plan that I haven’t worked on yet, my aim is to extend the bluebird bed along the grass paddock fence and eventually meet up with the front walkway beds, with the final goal being to have a large pollinator garden that wraps around the chairs and fire pit. 

I’ve learned when creating garden beds out of grassy areas, it’s best (for me) to pick a section and get it going rather than trying to do a more expansive project all at once. 

The bluebird bed is beginning to be where I originally envisioned it. This is how it looked after we moved the bird box but before I did anything else. This photo is from the front pasture through the grass paddock, but you can see that the bluebird box has been installed to what was grassy lawn on a slope. 

This next photo is how it looked after I prepared the bed and put in the first batch of native plantings. On this area, I used cardboard topped with compost, and after planting, I mulched it heavily. Unlike my main pollinator beds, this one wasn’t given a season to sit. I did it all in a weekend. I think if you have time to give a prepared bed a season before you plant, it’s easier, but I used a garden knife to cut holes in the cardboard for this initial planting. 

In hindsight I should have immediately dug a trench around the perimeter of the bed. The grasses are very aggressive and it’s taken a lot of effort to keep grass and other things from moving in. That first year I lost a number of plants to brown bunnies, and added a few things to fill in those losses. Last fall I tried to really fill the bed in and although I lost a few plants to bunnies again, it is starting to look like my initial vision.

As of this morning, I’ve weeded out some of the native plantain that seems to love the area right below this bed. All I can think is that the run-off and slope create an area that the plantain thrives in. Since the plantain is growing inside the front pasture just behind this, it is creeping up and into the bed. I don’t mind a patch of plantain in the front pasture, but I may have to get rid of it in this general area to make life easier with regards to maintaining this bed. 

What needs to be done still: fill in a long/narrowish empty strip that is left by some of the bunny munching. It would actually be a great place for a garden sculpture if I had something on hand, or perhaps a strip of stacked stone. I got a newsletter this morning from our feed store saying native perennials have been restocked and oh dear, do I really need to go buy some to fill in this space? Maybe, but I’m going to sleep on it!

Also, it’s impossible to see in these photos, but I have a small grouping of Indian physic in front of the bluebird box that I love. It’s tiny by comparison, but it has such pretty, intricate leaves, stems, and flowers. 

Now that the main bed is done, I can add in a few final touches as they come to me. But how nice to walk out and see this bed coming into its glory a bit! 


Grey Horse Matters said...

It looks like its coming along nicely. I'm sure you will think of a nice sculpture or perennials to compliment the area.

billie hinton said...

Thanks, A! I have a few ideas now but it’s so hot today I’m going to wait to try them. :)